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Payrolls hit by the severe winter weather!!!
We suspect that the unexpectedly weak 74,000 increase in non-farm payrolls in December is largely because of the unseasonably severe winter weather last month. (The consensus forecast was 197,000.) The labour market certainly looked healthy before December, with November’s gain revised up to 241,000.
From the household survey we know that 273,000 people reported not being able to work because of the weather in December, well above the 166,000 long-term average for the final month of each year. That doesn’t mean we can mechanically translate that into a 110,000 hit to payrolls, however, because the payroll survey still counts workers as employed as long as they were paid for one day in the sample period, regardless of whether they physically turned up. Nevertheless, it is normally a pretty good indication. The 16,000 decline in construction payrolls and the dip in average weekly hours worked are also indications that bad weather played a role.
Otherwise, the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to only 6.7%, from 7.0%, thanks largely to a 347,000 decline in the labour force, with the household survey measure showing a 143,000 increase in employment.
All things considered, the well below consensus gain in payrolls will inevitably lead to speculation that the Fed will leave its monthly asset purchases unchanged at $75bn per month at the upcoming meeting in late January. However, we still think the Fed will push through a further $10bn reduction. The weather likely played a role in December’s weakness and, at 6.7%, the unemployment rate is closing in on the 6.5% threshold that was originally intended to signal that the Fed would at least begin to consider raising the fed funds rate.
Ja vi får se hur USA öppnar och stänger ikväll innan vi drar några förhastade slutsatser. Men risken är att marknaden inte väljer att agera på siffran. Fokus kommer istället riktas mot Q4:orna som börjar rulla in de kommande veckorna!